Understanding the processes that lead to coupling to convection in tropical waves

Tropical waves play an important role in the hydrologic cycle of multiple regions in the tropics, such as the Caribbean, and often develop into tropical cyclones, and have far-reaching impacts in the extratropics. In spite of this, numerous question remains. Among these questions is how convection (rainfall) couples to the large scale circulation, and what triggers convection to begin with.

The research will provide important insights on the organization of precipitation in the tropics, which will lead to improvements in the representation of these processes in models. Furthermore, because these disturbances sometimes develop into tropical cyclones, insights provided by this study may be of interest to the forecasting of tropical cyclogenesis. Results from the project have great potential to form a new general theoretical framework for tropical motions, which may be included in a course in tropical meteorology.

Novel statistical techniques will be used to analyze the interactions among water vapor, precipitation and circulation. We will examine observational data and simulations from numerical models to obtain a lucid, clear picture of how circulations in these "rotational tropical disturbances" modulate the distribution of water vapor and precipitation processes. The study will elucidate the ways in which water vapor modifies precipitation, and how this change in rainfall affects circulations of these disturbances. The role that thermodynamic processes such as radiation and condensation play in this interplay will also be examined.